With all the rain we’ve been having, fungi in our area are VERY happy. This shows up not only as spots and brown areas on foliage, but as mushrooms! Mushrooms, the fruiting structures of fungi, are popping up in large numbers in lawns and mulch. Also appearing are mushrooms of decay fungi in trees, including this massive “Chicken of the Woods” display growing in a red oak in Ellsworth, Wisconsin. Chicken of the Woods is a rather easily recognizable fungus that lives on the dead heartwood of the tree. It doesn’t hurt the tree because it doesn’t affect the live tissue—it just decomposes the dead cells in the center of the tree, creating a “hollow tree” that is common among older trees. Occasionally it produces fruiting structures that pop out through openings in the trunk. In this case, the tree has a large frost crack where most of the mushrooms have formed. This tree produced a similar display of mushrooms about three years ago.